Image for Law and Religion: International Headline News

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies maintains a Headlines News service covering news about freedom of religion or belief internationally, sent to subscribers daily (Monday - Saturday). All interested may subscribe to this service, free of charge, here.    

A searchable archive of Law and Religion Headlines, in three categories, may be found at the following links: [International News] [Europe News]  [U.S. News] 

Please note that the headlines posted do not necessarily reflect opinions or attitudes of members of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. We strive for balance in presenting issues of potential interest to our readers. 

Dear Headlines Subscribers: 

We note the coming into effect of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May 2018. This is to inform you that we know of no conflicts with this regulation in our practice of gathering and holding subscriber information. (See our Privacy Policy here.) If you have any questions about this please contatct us at Note that you may unsubscibe or otherwise manage your subscription at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of any list of headlines you receive.  Let us know if, after clicking the... more

Image for ICLRS Leadership Weighs in on Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On Monday, 4 June 2018, the United States Supreme Court announced their decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Seven of the court's nine justices sided with the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, who had refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because he felt it violated his religous beliefs. ICLRS Director Brett Scharffs and Associate Director Elizabeth Clark were asked to weigh in on the decision. Both had signed an amicus brief in support of the cakeshop in this case.

Professor Scharffs spoke on the BYU Radio program Top of Mind with Julie Rose about the decision. In the interview he provided a basic understanding of the case as well as analysis of the decision. Professor Scharffs said that "the most important guidance given is that when a court or tribunal is weighing and balancing competing rights, it needs to be done in a fair-handed way." He referred to the frequent use of the words hostility and neutrality in the decision.... more

Image for BYU Law Students Compete at Moot Court Competition in Italy

Eight BYU Law students competed in an international Moot Court competition in Bologna, Italy, 6-7 March 2018. The competition was organized by the European Academy of Religion in collaboration with the International Consortium for Law & Religion Studies.

Teams from the United States and Europe argued a case before the European Court of Human Rights or the Supreme Court of the United States. The BYU law students were divided into two teams and argued before both. Pre-eminent scholars and actual judges from both jurisdictions made up the two Courts. European Court of Human Rights judges were Silvio Ferrari, Professor of Law and Religion at the University of Milan (Italy), Mark Hill QC, Professor at the University of Cardiff (UK), Pretoria (South Africa), Notre Dame (Australia), and Ann... more

Image for Robin Fretwell Wilson Receives the 2018 Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award
Hannah L. Smith, ICLRS Senior Fellow, with Robin Fretwell-Wilson, 2018 Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award Recipient

Robin Fretwell Wilson was presented the Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award at the 2018 J. Reuben Clark Law Society Annual Conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah the 15-17 of February. The award, named for General Thomas L. Kane, an influential and powerful advocate for the religious freedom of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during their migration to Utah and in the early days of the Church’s history, is presented to an individual who exemplifies the character and traits of Thomas L. Kane in upholding and defending religious freedom.

Robin Fretwell Wilson is the Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law and director of the Family Law and Policy Program and the Epstein Health Law and Policy Program at the University of Illinois College of Law. She is the author or editor of eleven books, including The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law (editor, Cambridge... more

Image for ICLRS Announces Two New Senior Fellows: Neville Rochow SC and Hannah C. Smith

Neville Rochow

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is honored to announce that two distinguished legal professionals have accepted appointments as Senior Fellow, Australia barrister Neville Rochow SC and American advocate Hannah Clayson Smith. 

Hannah Smith brings an unparalleled interest in and a distinguished record of service to the core issues of religious liberty in the United States. She twice clerked at the US Supreme Court, for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and between clerkships was an associate in private practice at national law firms in Washington D.C., representing clients before state and federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court in civil, criminal, and constitutional cases. Most recently she served as Senior Counsel at Becket Law, where she helped secure victories in key U.S. Supreme Court religious liberty cases, including Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School... more

Image for Brett Scharffs Appointed to BYU Law School's Rex E. Lee Chair

by Andrew Hoffman, BYU Law Student

On 15 November 2017, the J. Reuben Clark Law School held the final of this semester’s three investiture ceremonies. Professor Brett Scharffs was honored with appointment to the distinguished Rex E. Lee Chair, a position created to honor the late Rex E. Lee, a former Solicitor General, Dean of the Law School, and President of Brigham Young University. Dean Gordon Smith and Professor Cole Durham provided a few introductory remarks before Professor Scharffs was formally invested.

Dean Smith praised Professor Scharffs for his achievements in the field of legal scholarship. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, while president of BYU, remarked that it is the duty of the law school to produce great scholarship that is not just great in the eyes of church membership, but in the eyes of the general citizenry. Throughout his twenty years of teaching, Professor Scharffs has published in renowned legal journals and is well-known... more

Image for Article 18: From Rhetoric to Reality

Article 18: From Rhetoric to Reality
All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (APPG) 
October 2017

Article 18: From Rhetoric to Reality is a timely report. It is four years since the All Party Parliamentary Group’s first report Article 18: An Orphaned Right highlighted the situation of millions of people around the world who face persecution or discrimination because of their religion or beliefs. In the intervening years, violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) have not diminished, and discrimination and persecution in the... more

Image for Associate Director Gary Doxey receives Distinguished Eagle Scout Award

ICLRS Associate Director Gary Doxey was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Award from the Boy Scouts of America on 26 October 2017 in Provo, Utah. To be nominated for the Distinguished Eagle Award, past Eagle Scouts are required to have received their Eagle at least 25 years prior and have “received extraordinary, national-level recognition or eminence within their identified field.” They must also exhibit a strong record of community service and family values. Gary was previously awarded the Silver Beaver Award and the Outstanding Eagle Award. 

The Center congratulates Gary on the award. The full article on Gary's award as well as a video interview with him can be found here

Image for Prof. (Dr.) Tahir Mahmood Receives N.R. Madhava Menon Best Law Teacher Award 2017

Eminent jurist Tahir Mahmood has received the prestigious N R Madhava Menon Best Law Teacher Award as part of the Law Teachers Day celebrations. Honouring law teachers and law schools in India, the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) and the Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy Training (MILAT) have been observing Law Teachers Day in September since 2009. The awards were presented at the Law Teachers’ Day Award Function & Symposium held at the Hyatt Regency, New Delhi, on 9th September, 2017. The symposium focused on, "Restructuring LL.B courses to get graduates practice ready". Attending the function in large numbers were Law Teachers, Vice Chancellors, and Directors. 

See more at Live Law:

Image for Durham and Scharffs Plenary Speakers at 8th World Congress for Religious Freedom
Ganoune Diop presents Award of Honor for Global Impact to Cole Durham.
IRLA World Congress 2017

Brett Scharffs and Cole Durham, Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, were among the distinguished plenary speakers at the 8th World Congress for Religious Freedom, sponsored by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), held 22-24 August 2017 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. During the event, Professor Durham, "prolific author, editor, and international scholar" who is one of IRLA's Advisory Directors and a member of its Panel of Experts, was presented with the International Religious Liberty Award of Honor for Global Impact in Promoting Constitutional Law, Human Rights, and Religious Freedom.... more

Image for Symposium 2017: 'Religion and Religious Freedom in a Changing World'

The 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) was held 1-3 October 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Some 100 Delegates to the 2017 Symposium were invited to discuss the conference theme — "Religion and Religious Freedom in a Changing World" — including such sub-themes as Religion and Security, Religion and Pluralism, and Religion and the Rule of Law.  

Session reports of presentations are available here, and recordings from the event are available at this link. (See recordings from Symposium 2016 here.)

The 2017 Symposium opened Sunday evening, October 1, with keynote addresses by Ján Figeľ, the European Commission's Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union, and András Sajó, Hungarian scholar and former Judge and Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights. 

Each year since 1994, ICLRS has hosted a symposium devoted to the discussion of law and religion... more

Image for Honduran Ambassador to London Co-Hosts Goodwill Reception at BYU London Centre

His Excellency Ivan Romero-Martinez, Honduran Ambassador to London and most prominent diplomat for the Latin American group of ambassadors in the United Kingdom, co-hosted a goodwill reception and luncheon on 21 April 2017 at the Brigham Young University (BYU) London Centre, in association with Public Affairs representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and representatives of the International Center for Law and Religions Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University Law School (USA). The Latin American diplomatic group comprises 21 countries in Central and South America. Supporting the Honduras Ambassador at the event were ambassadors and senior diplomats from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay.... more

Image for Iraqi-Kurdistan Delegation Visits the Center

Under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government's Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs visited the Center. The delegation included the Spokesperson and Director General of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs (MERA), who was responsible for creating Directorates for all of the religious minorities within the Ministry to assure that underrepresented groups had a voice within the government. Other ministry delegates represented Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian communities. 

Objectives of the visit included helping MERA strengthen interfaith cooperation... more

Image for Dr. Ganoune Diop Receives Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award
Dr. Gannoune Diop accepts award from Elder Lance B. Wickman and W. Cole Durham, Jr.
Photo courtesy of Mormon Newsroom.

(Originally published by Mormon Newsroom)

Dr. Ganoune Diop, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church, was given the Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society (Brigham Young University) recently in Philadelphia.

In presenting the award, Elder Lance B. Wickman, general counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and emeritus member of the Seventy, thanked Dr. Diop for being a friend of the Church like Thomas L. Kane was a friend to the Church.

During its annual conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark discusses the Johnson Amendment on BYU Radio

Top of Mind with Julie Rose, a BYU radio show focused on current events, interviewed Associate Director Elizabeth Clark in regards to recent religious freedom issues under President Trump. Professor Clark shared her insights on the Johnson Amendment and the President's threats to repeal it, concerns surrounding the potential loss of tax exempt status for various churches and ancillary organizations associated with churches, the perception that religious freedom implies discrimination, and the recent travel ban.

While discussing the clash between those who believe that... more

Image for Center Welcomes Ján Figeľ to the Academic Advisory Board

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University is honored to announce that Dr. Ján Figeľ, the European Commission's first Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) outside the European Union, has accepted the invitation to join the Center's Academic Advisory Board. The fourteen members of this distinguished group of globally recognized scholars make outstanding contributions to illuminating the intricacies of religious freedom principles and promoting enlightened discussion of those principles, significantly advancing the Center's mission and the cause of religious freedom throughout the world. Since his appointment as Special Envoy in May 2016, Dr. Figeľ has worked tirelessly throughout the world to fulfill his mission, and in the process has enriched a great many of the Center's endeavors... more

Image for Brett Scharffs named to Religious Freedom Institute's Board of Advisors

Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School, has been named to the Board of Advisors of the newly organized Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) based in Washington, DC. RFI is an outgrowth of the Religious Freedom Project (RFP) at Georgetown University's Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Formation of the new entity, which is "committed to achieving broad acceptance of religious liberty as a fundamental human right, the cornerstone of a successful society, and a source of national and international security," was spearheaded by RFP partners Thomas Farr, Timothy Shah, Byron Johnson, and Kent Hill. Professor Scharffs is an alumnus of Georgetown University, where he earned a BSBA in international business and an MA in philosophy.... more

Image for The Center Welcomes Adesina J. Olukanni in the Role of Senior Fellow for Africa

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University Law School is pleased to announce that Adesina J. Olukanni, recently retired as the Director of Public Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for Africa West Area, has accepted an invitation to serve as the Center's Senior Fellow for Africa. He was the Country Director in Nigeria for Church Education Systems between April 2004 and March 2007. He came into Public Affairs in April of 2007 as the Director of Public Affairs for the Church in the Africa West Area and the Africa South East Area.

Adesina has served in numerous Church positions, including high counsellor, branch president, district president’s counsellor, district president, mission president’s... more

Image for Erlend 'Pete' Peterson Named as Center Senior Fellow for the Middle East

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School is pleased to announced that Erlend "Pete" Peterson, recently retired from service as Brigham Young University's Associate International Vice President, has accepted a position as Center Senior Fellow for the Middle East.

During his fifty years of full-time employment at BYU, Pete served in several professional positions in Admissions and Records (35 years), as Assistant Dean, Associate Dean, and Dean of Admissions and Records (25 years). For the past 15 years he was Associate International Vice President, which included many international roles and hosting, including a close working relationship with the International... more

Image for Scharffs' paper 'Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent, and Those Hostile to Religion Should Care' — Top 10 on SSRN

Center Director Brett Scharffs paper, "Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent and Those Hostile to Religion Should Care" has been listed on Social Science Research Network's (SSRN) Top Ten download list in four categories: "Human Rights, Justice for Nonhuman Animals, Ecologies, Environments"; "Race, Ethnicity & Identity Politics";  Political Behavior eJournals"; and "U.S. Constitutional Law: Rights & Liberties eJournals".

The paper is available for download on SSRN at this link. The abstract for the paper is below:

Religious freedom: Is it the grandparent of human rights, or the neglected stepchild? As with... more

Image for Hannah Clayson Smith Delivers 2017 Durham Lecture: 'Religious Liberty: The Promise of American Religious Pluralism'

Hannah C. Smith, Senior Counsel for Becket Law, Washington, DC, delivered the 2017 G. Homer Durham Lecture at the J. Reuben Clark Law School on 26 January at the J. Reuben Clark Law School. She spoke on the topic "Religious Liberty: The Promise of American Religious Pluralism."

Smith began the lecture by looking at religious freedom through the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She quoted several religious leaders and established four primary doctrinal themes: the conflict between religious and secularist voices; the growing intolerance towards... more